Exactly how important is character when hiring? Is character more important than skill, or is skill more important than character? Where is the balance? Do you have to choose between character and skill, or is it possible for a person to have both skill and character?

“In determining ‘the right people,'” observed Jim Collins, “the good-to-great companies placed greater weight on character attributes than on specific educational background, practical skills, specialized knowledge, or work experience.” To have a great company, character must be the most important criteria in the hiring process. 

At Kimray, we decided to create an addendum to our application that would guide us during interviews. It contained character-based questions that would help us discern the specific qualities and overall character of a prospective employee. This has proven very beneficial for our company since we implemented it more than two decades ago.

I’ve learned through the years that it’s easier to hire people with good character than to change their character after they are hired. If you want a company with a culture of character and employees known for their character, you must hire for character. There is no other way, and there are no shortcuts.